In 1997, the Tunnels of Little Chicago, a non-profit company, opened its doors. It consisted of a single tour covering both Chinese immigration and bootlegging. The tour was well received and quite successful for the 3 years it ran.
In the summer of 1999, a former Moose Javian came home to visit. While here, he went on a tour after which he realized the potential of this small attraction. His idea was to inject capital to expand the attraction, introduce operational expertise and aggressively market the business. Inquires were made and a contract was created in which the Tunnels of Moose Jaw became the management company.
A team was formed to create and execute the business plan. They developed the concept of incorporating story telling with history and presenting it in an entertaining and educational way. This would be accomplished by using a combination of live actors and theatre, multimedia, animatronics and special effects. Authentic spaces would be created and a great deal of attention paid to period detailing.
It was decided to split the single tour into two, one telling the age old story of the infamous Al Capone’s visits to Moose Jaw in the 1920s, the other the compelling Canadian story of Chinese immigration around 1900.
The Tunnels of Moose Jaw opened its doors on June 15th, 2000, with the Chicago Connection tour. On July 15th, 2000 the Passage to Fortune tour was unveiled. Since opening, the attraction is more than ten times larger than the original, and has entertained more than three times the number of guests per year. Response from the guests and tourism and business communities has been enthusiastic.
The success of the Tunnels ultimately comes down to one thing, “people.” The people who created the vision, plan and product. The people who sell tickets, play characters and run the day to day operations. And most important, the people, our guests, who enjoy and support the experience we have built.